UNITED NATIONS - A group of United Nations human rights experts have urged the Saudi Arabian Government to stop the imminent execution of Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, convicted for a crime he allegedly committed as a child.

According to a UN press release, al-Nimr, then a high school student, was arrested in 2012 when he was 17 by the Saudi authorities for his reported participation in ‘Arab Spring’ protests in Qatif, Eastern Province. The Specialized Criminal Court in May 2015 sentenced him to death for joining a criminal group and attacking police officers. “Confessions obtained under torture are unacceptable and cannot be used as evidence before court. Any judgment imposing the death penalty upon persons who were children at the time of the offence, and their execution, are incompatible with Saudi Arabia’s international obligations,” the Special Rapporteurs said, while recalling the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Saudi Arabia is a party.

According to the news release, al-Nimr’s appeal made by his lawyer was heard without prior notification and the proceedings fell short of international standards.

“Mr. al-Nimr did not receive a fair trial and his lawyer was not allowed to properly assist him and was prevented from accessing the case file. International law, accepted as binding by Saudi Arabia, provides that capital punishment may only be imposed following trials that comply with the most stringent requirements of fair trial and due process, or could otherwise be considered an arbitrary execution,” the experts said.

The Special Rapporteurs also asked the Saudi authorities to “ensure a fair retrial of Ali Mohammed al-Nimr and to immediately halt the scheduled execution.”Two other individuals are at risk of an imminent execution after being arrested for their participation in Qatif when they were children.

“We urge the Saudi authorities to establish a moratorium on the use of the death penalty, halt executions of persons convicted who were children at the time of the offence, and ensure a prompt and impartial investigation into all alleged acts of torture.”

The experts are: Christof Heyns, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Juan E. Mendez, UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; and Benyam Mezmur, current Chairperson of the UN Committee on the Rights of Child.